MA Special Election: Stephen Lynch Flip-Flops On Abortion After Declaring Candidacy


Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) will run for the Senate seat left vacant by newly-minted Secretary of State John Kerry. Lynch will be running against the heavily-favored Congressman Ed Markey in the Democratic primary. Up until his decision to run for senate, Lynch was a self-described anti-abortion legislator. 

On Monday, however, Lynch said he believed abortion to be a constitutionally protected right.

But here is Lynch in 2011

“I am a pro-life Democrat. I am a pro-life Democrat, and my faith informs my position on this issue...I don't have many friends in the Planned Parenthood community. They don't support me. I am pro-life. But I respect the good work that they do.” 

This type of flip-flopping is nothing new for Massachusetts politicians. We saw Mitt Romney go from being a pro-choice governor to an anti-choice presidential candidate. Lynch is likely coming out as more liberal ahead of the April 30 primary in order to win against Ed Markey, who has a 100 percent approval rating from pro-choice groups. 

Lynch’s problems with Democratic voters doesn’t end with abortion, however. As a moderate Democrat, his socially conservative views might prove to be his downfall against Markey. Lynch voted for building a fence along the Mexican border in 2006, is in support of extending the USA PATRIOT Act's roving wiretaps, and voted against a 1996 assault weapons ban as a state senator. Lynch also voted against The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) because he believed it burdened small businesses and didn’t do enough to reform the system. Markey will use Lynch’s nay vote against him as the only member of the New England congressional delegation to vote against the bill. 

Lynch could gain former supporters of Scott Brown — who decided to not run for the vacant seat; through his opposition of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and continued support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lynch has faced challengers before, including a primary challenge from Mac D’Alessandro in 2010. Lynch won handily in that election, despite his no vote on the health care bill. 

It’s obvious that the Democratic machine is behind Ed Markey, who has already received the endorsement of outgoing senator John Kerry. Lynch will have an uphill battle, and will be forced to explain some of his conservative views with Democratic voters. Lynch’s recent comments about abortion reminds me of the growing number of politicians who seem to feel like they must lie or explain away their past in order to win elections. Politicians nowadays feel compelled to entertain any variance between what they believe and what their party's base believe. It’s nothing new, but it does put further limitations on the ability of moderates to run and win elections. If the only people we vote for are individuals who toe the party line 100% of the time, it is likely to make Congress even more gridlocked than it already is.